Category Archives: Adoption Books & Movies

5 Children’s Books to Help Your Child Understand What It Means to Be Adopted

You may have thought that the days of buying adoption books were behind you after finalizing your adoption. You did your homework, anxiously reading anything and everything you could get your hands on in preparation for the Big Day. While it may feel as though there is nothing left to learn about adoption, your child may feel a bit differently. In fact, they probably have lots of questions, some of which may be easy for you to answer, and others not so easy. Here are five great children’s books to help guide your child through some of the adoption questions they may have as they move through the different stages of childhood and adolescence.

  1. We Belong Together by Todd Parr

We Belong Together is a picture book, illustrated with bright and fun colors that are sure to grab any young child’s attention. Each page contains another reason why “We belong together,” such as “You needed someone to kiss your boo-boos, and we had kisses to give.” Through specific illustrations of love in the home, We Belong Together shines a light on the fact that each adoption holds its own unique story.

2. Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis

This picture book tells the story of a young girl’s birth night, as she listens to her parents retell the story upon her request. The story highlights prominent moments in the adoption journey, such as the call the adoptive family received when the birth mother went into labor, as well as more mature topics centering around why she could not stay with her birth mother.

3. Oliver: A Story About Adoption by Lois Wickstrom

As the first page of the book states: “Oliver lives with a mommy and a daddy and a goldfish. He is related to his mom and dad by love and law. Oliver is adopted.” The story tells of the time that Oliver, a lizard, falls from a tree and is sent to his room by his dad to think about how to play safely. In his room, Oliver instead begins to think about what his life would be like if he were living with his birth parents instead. When Oliver shares this with his parents, they explain to him that these thoughts are normal and that, as children, they too spent time thinking about what it would be like to live with a different family.

4. Lucy’s Family Tree by Karen Halvorsen Schreck

Lucy’s story begins when she is asked to create a family tree for a class assignment. Lucy, who is Mexican-born and was adopted by an American couple as a baby, tells her parents that she cannot do the assignment because she is too “different.” Upon further discussion with her parents, Lucy comes to understand that no family is the same, and each has its own unique differences.

5. ABC, Adoption & Me—A Multi-Cultural Picture Book for Adoptive Families by Gayle H. Swift

ABC, Adoption & Me addresses the questions about adoption that many children may face, but have trouble asking about. The book, which is directed towards children, includes a parent’s guide as well, making it the perfect tool for starting healthy and fruitful conversation about adoption, family, culture, and more.

Interested in one (or all) of these books? Find out more below:

We Belong Together

Tell Me Again About The Night I Was Born

Oliver: A Story About Adoption

Lucy’s Family Tree

ABC, Adoption & Me

 

October 2016 Book Reviews

2016-AFTH-book-reviews

All books purchased by clicking the link in our review will give AFTH a small donation from Amazon.com.  If you are interested in purchasing one of the books in our review please consider buying it through our link to amazon.com.

thicker-than-bloodThicker Thank Blood: Adoptive Parenting in the Modern World by Marion Crook – Author Marion Crook is an adoptive parent to two sons, using her experiences this book gets to the heart  of parenting in today’s world.  While there are other books out there that are similar its always good to have reinforcement of some of these tips, feelings and experiences.  While much of this book relates to adoption of older children there are some things that are still the same such as fear of birth parents, and addressing issues of abandonment with children.

Ms. Crook is from Canada so many of the organizations and agencies she refers to are not relevant to the US, the US may have something similar but the names are not the same. I did feel that some of her advice was a little judgmental or skewed when it came to birth parents. Overall however this is a good book that has some great advice and a well researched information.  Amazon.com price $18.15 (pb) $17.24 (kindle)

images (98)99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Choosing Adoption by Robert & Jeffrey Kasky – This is a quick read with some good information about legal risk, termination of parental rights and what expenses you can and can’t pay for with regard to potential birth parents. There is information on special needs adoptions, future contact agreements, and surrogacy as well.  While much of the legal information varies from state to state and these authors are in Florida its a good starting point.  You may want to check with your agency or attorney to see what the regulations and laws are in your state. Amazon.com price $14.97 (pb) $2.99 (kindle)

99-dos-and-donts99 Adoption Do’s and Don’ts by Russell Elkins – This is a short book packed with a lot of great advice. In fact we liked it so much that we at Adoptions From The Heart have started giving this book out to our clients! This book is really geared toward adopting infants through open adoption directly from the hospital.  The advice is easy to read, and the book is only about 50 pages long.  These are things we really want all prospective adoptive parents to know. Great book Amazon.com price $5.99 (pb) $2.99 (kindle)

Book Reviews September 2016

2016-AFTH-book-reviews

All books purchased by clicking the link in our review will give AFTH a small donation from Amazon.com.  If you are interested in purchasing one of the books in our review please consider buying it through our link to amazon.com.
Separated Lives by Lynn Assimacopoulos – Fans of genealogy may find this book very intriguing. This book is a short glimpse into how Lynn helped her sons friend track down his birth parents through perseverance and the internet. With the help of Google and several genealogy sites and other genealogy hobbyists, Lynn was able to track down Ryan’s birth parents.

Short, sweet and to the to the point this is an interesting story of how one person can use the internet to help someone find the separate pieces of their lives and put themselves back together. Amazon.com price $9.00 (pb)

Megan’s Birthday Tree: A Story about Open Adoption by Laurie Lears -Many adoptee’s wonder about their adoption, their past, their birth parents and why they were placed for adoption.  Open adoption helps to answer those questions for families and adopted children by giving them access to their birth parents.  In this story Megan loves looking through the letters she gets from her birth mother and gets excited when she receives a picture every year of her birth mother standing next to a tree she planted when Megan was born.  Megan loves to see the tree grow.  When she learns her birth mother is moving she is scared that her birth mother will forget her.

This story is sweet and honest.  The fears that Megan shares are real and they are handled very well in this story.  In the end Megan’s birth mother assures her that she could never forget her that she is very important to her.  Then she shows her that she had dug up the birthday tree to take it to her new home.  This book shows how important open adoption can be to help eliminate children’s fears and answer their questions. Nice story. amazon.com as low as $.01 (HC used) kindle price $6.99

The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Letters to their Younger Selves edited by Sarah Moon –   Uplifting letters from authors to their younger selves.  These letters cover everything from self-acceptance, keep pursuing your dream because it will happen, to stop being a bully and hanging out in parks at night.  For every kid who thought they were weird, different or didn’t know where they fit in this shows that it does indeed get better. I also like the idea of writing to yourself, one of the authors actually wrote a letter to his older self when he was 13 then stumbled upon it later and used it when writing his piece in this book.  What an amazing find and what a great idea.  To see where you are in 10-20-30 years and look back on what you thought was important to ask at that time.   amazon.com price $10.99 (pb) Kindle price $6.99

 

Adoption and Back to School

Back to school means new friends, fun projects, and of course lots of learning. Despite the excitement of this time of year, it can also be a nerve racking one for adoptees and their parents. If your child is old enough to understand the concept of adoption and its role in their life, you might start to wonder if and how to go about discussing adoption with their teachers and classmates.

“Will my child be made fun of?”

“What if there is a family tree project in history class?”

“Will their teachers understand how to be inclusive to all types of families?”

“How will my child react if his or her friends and teachers don’t seem accepting or understanding of adoption?”

These are all questions you may be asking yourself. However, there are many great resources and ideas for you and your child to utilize. After all, you want to make sure they are as comfortable as possible so they can learn as effectively as possible.

Prepare your child

Talking with your child is the first step you should take in preparing them for back to school. Answer any questions they may have themselves and then discuss possible questions others may ask them. The answers you arm your child with depend on what makes sense for your family, but below are some questions you can expect other kids will ask…

  • “Who are your real parents?”
  • “Why did your real parents give you away?”
  • “Where did you come from?”
  • “Why is your skin a different color that your mom’s?”
  • “Do the parents you have now love you like my mom and dad love me?”

These questions can be tough to answer even with positive adoption language. With unknowing children, it can be even worse. Prepare your child for what they may hear and how they can answer when they want, in a way they are comfortable answering.

Connect with their teacher

The first thing you can ask your child’s teacher for is a curriculum and/or summaries of lesson plans. Let the teacher know your family’s situation and go over the planned classwork with them. If and when you see potentially exclusive lessons to “traditional” families, offer up some ideas to welcome everyone, including your little one.

Some projects you may see in the classroom to discuss with your child’s teacher are…

  • Family tree
  • Timeline projects
  • English or Art biography assignments that involve
    • Illustrating your family
    • Writing a story about your family
    • Etc.

Click here to find more adoption friendly versions of these long held school projects.

You may also consider speaking with your social worker or attorney on educational materials you can provide to your child’s teachers and administrative staff.

Get involved in the classroom

Offer your personal experience and expertise and get involved in the classroom. Many teachers will have parents come in as a guest for story time. Offer your time and read an adoption related story. Check out some great ones here. Contribute to your child’s career day by asking your social worker or attorney to come in and talk about adoption and what they do to build beautiful families like your own!

Talk with other parents

Take time to introduce yourself to other parents in your child’s class. If and when you feel comfortable telling them your experience with adoption, be willing to tell them more about adoption in general and answer questions they may have. If the parents know and understand about adoption, it will glean a positive influence on their children.

When you’ve found other parents who are understanding to your family dynamic, try setting up play dates. Your child can make a new friend and you can have the peace of mind knowing the family will make sure both children are as comfortable as possible!

Paint a picture for other parents. They may be step parents, single parents, an interracial couple, have multiple religions in their family, or other non-traditional dynamics. Explain that adoption is just like their family. It’s “non-traditional,” but it’s just another way to build a wonderful family in a loving and happy home.

Celebrate adoption!

Schools are often looking for volunteer and community service opportunities for students, their families, and faculty. Suggest some local events and fundraisers through adoption agencies like the Adoptions From The Heart Paper Heart Project, or Find Her Footing 5K , which includes a kids dash!

You may also want to talk to your child’s teacher about celebrating your little one’s adoption day at school, similar to a birthday. Offer to come in and explain to the class what an adoption day is and bring in a special treat.

Understanding and celebrating others begins with you and your child. Encourage your child to be welcoming to all of their classmates and open to all different types of people, just as they hope their classmates will accept them.

 

No matter what steps you may take to help your child with back to school, the most important aspect is their ability to learn and grow. Make sure to check in with your little one and ask about their day and what they learned. School can be tough for any child. Parenting a child having school difficulties isn’t easy either. Reach out to your agency and social worker for more resources and specific thoughts on how to help your child thrive in school.

August Book Reviews 2016

2016-AFTH-book-reviews

All books purchased by clicking the link in our review will give AFTH a small donation from Amazon.com.  If you are interested in purchasing one of the books in our review please consider buying it through our link to amazon.com.

Daughters of the Dragon by William Andrews – This is a riveting tale of courage and triumph.  After Anna’s mother dies she decides to return to the place of her birth and try to locate her birth family.  This trip takes Anna to a run-down apartment in Seoul where she learns of a tragic and resilient history, meets her biological grandmother and discovers her legacy.

Beautiful and well written this story tells the tragic history of Korea and what happened there. It is sad, hopeful, beautiful and full of life.  I couldn’t put it down and was sucked in from the beginning. William Andrews captures feel of this tale and really makes you believe it.  I almost forgot I was reading a book of fiction.  The characters jumped off the page and I could see the dust and feel the pain, courage and spirit to survive.

You don’t have to be adopted to relate to this story.  It’s about learning your history.  Whether you don’t know it due to adoption or if you are learning it from a distant relative this story is more about the strength of the women in this family and their will to live.  Very well done. amazon.com price $9.21 (paperback), $4.99 (kindle)

Claiming Noah by Amanda Ortlepp – Two couples both desperately wanting a child, but the actions of one father changes the lives of both couples forever. To complicate matters even further the child these couples find themselves battling over is the biological child of Cat and her husband, but was born and raised by Diana and Liam. Through Embryo donation Diana and her husband got pregnant and gave birth to Noah and raised him until the day he disappeared.

This is a complicated story that reminds me of the Baby M case from many years ago.  Although that case was a surrogacy case and the mother of baby M was the surrogate.  Who has more rights to Noah? His biological parents or his “adoptive” parents? This is a difficult story that leaves you struggling to figure out what is right and what is just. The ending was completely satisfying and believable. amazon.com price $17.23 (Hardcover) $13.99 (Kindle)

 

 

March 2016 Book/Film Reviews

2016-AFTH-book-reviews

All books purchased by clicking the link in our review will give AFTH a small donation from Amazon.com.  If you are interested in purchasing one of the books in our review please consider buying it through our link to amazon.com.

Catwalk-Kids-Master-Poster-1484414_200x300Catwalk Kids Documentary – Is the marketing of children in foster care a good thing or a bad thing? Spanning several countries this film focuses on the new trend of holding fashion shows, adoption event, Wednesday’s Child video segments and Heart Gallery’s to showcase children in Foster care in the hope of getting them permanent homes.

Adam Pertman from the Evan B. Donaldson Institutes reminds people that informed people make better decisions so these expo’s and adoption events actually help families who don’t know their options to get better acquainted with the adoption process and the children that are available.

These strategies in America have worked and many children are finding permanent homes.  The video’s and photos bring the children to light, bringing them out of the dark, secrecy of foster care and into the light so that people can see them.  When people see these children and hear their stories they are more likely to want to help. Will these same campaigns work in other countries? Maybe not but if they use strategies that would work in their culture, strategies that help the children in care find homes isn’t that a good thing? Foster children are often out of sight, so people don’t see them, therefore they don’t exist in many people’s minds, when the issues are raised and the children are showcased people find compassion for them and want to help.  I don’t agree with all of the strategies employed in this video but there is no doubt that marketing is helping children find permanent homes. Free on amazon.com with Prime membership

adoption beyond bordersAdoption Beyond Borders: How International Adoption Benefits Children by Rebecca Compton – Rebecca Compton is a mother and psychologist who on her journey to adopt from Kazakhstan wound up staying in-country for almost a year and got to see firsthand the effects of institutionalization on children.   I appreciated the way Compton wove together her adoption story with the studies and observations she made as well as the research she has done. It was a nice balance of personal and educational.  While you may find this book to be more like a dissertation the information is worth your time and her writing style makes it interesting and enjoyable.

International adoptions have dropped significantly since 2008 when the Hague Convention was implemented in the United States.  The Hague looks great on paper and has very altruistic goals but the reality is that many of the organizations that had their hands in creating it were either anti-adoption or had a political agenda.  This has left thousands of children waiting in orphanages for families that may never come. The wait time of international adoption has increased as well leaving these children vulnerable. Research proves that the earlier a child is placed with a family the better the long term results.

Compton looks at the cognitive abilities, socio-economic functioning, attachment and identity issues facing parentless children and the results are staggering.  The policies in place today are not in the best interest of children and are in fact doing more harm.  Having children languish in orphan homes waiting for in-country placements when families are lining up from outside their borders to adopt is a travesty. I highly recommend reading this book and writing your congressmen to try to change the international adoption policies. amazon.com price $27.95 (HC)

dear adoptive parentsDear Adoptive Parents: Things You Need to Know Right Now – from an Adoptee by Madeleine Melcher – Written as a series of letter to parents who have adopted Madeleine Melcher offers positive encouragement and advice.  There are several important take aways I received from this book.  1. Don’t live your child’s adoption. It does not have to be the most important thing in the room.  They are a child, you are their parent.  I’m not saying ignore that they came to your family through adoption but by living and breathing adoption is not allowing the child to live and grow as anything else but adopted.  2. Your tone regarding adoption sets the tone that they will carry with them about adoption, how they will view it how they perceive it.  If you have complaints or negative things to say about adoption they will know and they will internalize it.  3. Listen to your child.  You are the parent of a very special person that has a very special bond with you.  Make sure you are listening to them and their needs and not just what you perceive their needs to be.  4 Listen to yourself. Don’t focus on how that child came to be in your life remember that you are their mother and/or father. How they became yours doesn’t matter when you are sitting by their bedside while they are sick or taking them to their first day of school.  Its all the little moments that add up to you being there for them and doing what is in their best interest.

Very positive book that is empowering to parents who have formed their families through adoption. I would definitely recommend it.  amazon.com price $12.06 (pb)

 

February TV/Book Reviews 2016

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All books purchased by clicking the link in our review will give AFTH a small donation from Amazon.com.  If you are interested in purchasing one of the books in our review please consider buying it through our link to amazon.com.

my girlfriends pregnant

My Girlfriend’s Pregnant!: A Teen’s Guide to Becoming a Dad by Chloe Shantz-Hilkes -This short book (129 pages) is packed with really good information.  While it focuses on young teen parents some of the advice is very pertinent for 20 somethings as well.  Packed with information on handling stress, domestic violence, relationships, childbirth as well as adoption and abortion.

This is actually one of the few books that actually focuses on the father.  Most teen pregnancy books focus on the mother but this one really talks to the father about how its okay to be scared, uncertain or have mixed emotions. There are quotes throughout the book from fathers that were interviewed regarding finding out that their girlfriend was pregnant, parenting, placing their child for adoption, and when their girlfriend decides to have an abortion. These quotes really help validate that different people feel differently about their decisions.  This book really focuses on taking care of yourself and really trying to make your wishes heard.  Sometimes you may not have the final say in what happens to the pregnancy but at least you can voice your opinion.

When the pregnancy test turns positive there are a whole lot of mixed emotions this book can help sort through them and help steer you toward making your wishes known, discussing what is going to happen and supporting your girlfriend in the best possible way you can. amazon.com price $12.95 (pb) 

I'm having their baby I’m Having Their Baby Season 1 – While there are many naysayers about this show I’m not sure they have actually watched it.  I do hate the title and wish they would change it but sometimes we can’t have everything.  This show is very focused on the story of the pregnant women and their reasons for choosing to make an adoption plan.  Sometimes they have support of their families and other times they don’t and its a realistic view of the struggle and stress it is to make this decision.  Not all of these women actually follow through with the placement, some decided to parent and then realize they can’t do it and go back to their original decisions.  Its an emotional roller-coaster that is a very realistic peak inside the world of women who are making this difficult choice.  I loved that they were from all different walks of life and different situations, some were young, some older and some already had children that they were parenting. It think this really helps to shatter the myth of who a “birth mother” is and what negative stereotype of why a woman would choose to make this decision.

There wasn’t a lot of involvement from the birth fathers but in a few episodes I was happy to see that they stated that the father has the same rights as the mother. The show didn’t do a great job of letting the audience know that in different states there is a period of time when the woman can revoke her consent to adoption and this time frame differs state to state but they did wrap each episode with a video from the birth mother or mother stating how she was doing and I’m assuming that these were filmed after the revocation period ended. Overall if you are looking to see the side of adoption that most people try to avoid or have negative feelings about this is a good show to watch.  Amazon has both seasons 1 & 2 available for streaming for $2.99 an episode or $14.99 a season. I didn’t find it on Hulu or netflix.